BALTIMORE (AP) — A stadium worker who accused the security director of the Baltimore Ravens of groping her after a game took the stand during the first day of trial.
The trial for Darren Sanders began Monday in Baltimore Circuit Court. Sanders is charged with second-degree assault and a fourth-degree sex offense stemming from allegations that he grabbed the female custodian's breasts and buttocks and kissed her without permission.
Sanders' accuser told jurors that that she rebuffed Sanders' repeated sexual advances as she escorted him to a stadium lot where his car was parked.
The Associated Press generally does not identify alleged victims of sexual assault.
The woman works for Chimes District of Columbia, an organization that staffs custodial personnel at the M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. She told jurors that after a football game on Dec. 18, 2014 she noticed Sanders was lost, and offered to give him directions. The woman said she recognized Sanders, who frequents the owner's suite, but did not realize he worked for the Ravens.
The woman told jurors that at one point while she was walking Sanders toward an elevator that would take him to the parking lot he'd been trying to find, the two stepped into a dimly lit outdoor area.
"When we stepped outside he went from a polite guy looking for an elevator to kind of creepy," she said, adding that he told her, "Nobody can see us out here."
The woman then said Sanders grabbed her buttocks several times, and when they finally approached the elevator, "pressed his body against me, grabbed my wrist and was trying to get me to touch him," she said. "He was moving my hair trying to kiss my neck. I kept saying 'No sir, please let me go.'"
Sanders' attorney Andy Alperstein will cross-examine the woman on Tuesday. During opening statements he described Sanders as a family man with three children who "worked hard for where he is in life." Alperstein told the jury that in fact it was the woman who asked for Sanders' phone number, and the man politely declined to engage her advances.
"Darren Sanders has been falsely accused of a crime," Alperstein said. "He is innocent, he did not do it and the state will not prove he did."
The trial is expected to last four days.